GAME NIGHT PREVIEW: Liberty Hill vs Rockdale

Liberty Hill vs. Rockdale

7:30 p.m. Friday, September 21

Tiger Stadium, Rockdale

 Rockdale High School

Enrollment: 474

Coach: Jeff Miller

Mascot: Tiger

Colors: Royal Blue/Gold

League: 18-3A (DI)

While the Liberty Hill Panthers (2-1) come off back-to-back big wins over Hondo and Smithville, the Rockdale Tigers (2-1) will return home after being shut out on the road against Cameron Yoe 34-0.

In a matchup of 2-1 teams, this will likely be a battle well into the fourth quarter, especially if last year’s score between the two schools is any indication. The Tigers came into Panther Stadium and held a lead until Liberty Hill came from behind to win 27-20.

Rockdale’s head man Jeff Miller is the only coach on the 2012 schedule that Liberty Hill faced last season, but that does not necessarily make things easier for the Panthers.

Liberty Hill Coach Jerry Vance reminisced about last year’s narrow victory over the Tigers, knowing they present big challenges.

“In fact, I think they were ahead of us 14-0 at one point,” said Vance. “We may have all of their tendencies, but they have all of ours also, so that kind of balances out. Coach Miller and I have enjoyed a long relationship and we both respect each other’s team. It’s fun to play a team that’s talented and disciplined and plays the game the way football is supposed to be played.”

Although the Panthers are enjoying success at the present, Coach Vance is not worried about keeping the team grounded and hungry. In fact he said it is quite easy with tough opponents like Rockdale and then Wimberley to follow.

“That’s real easy; you play somebody like Rockdale next,” Vance said. “You keep challenging your kids and Rockdale is a team that’s a challenge.”

One of those challenges is 6-3, 225 linebacker James David who will be anchoring the defense for the Tigers. Other players to keep an eye out for are quarterback Ethan Brinkley, who provides experience after throwing for 2,037 yards in 2011 and offensive lineman Josh Pelzel (6-6, 295), who possesses Division I-type talent.

Always doing his homework, Coach Vance knows about some of the big guys in Rockdale.

“They’ve always got huge offensive and defensive linemen and they always have got great skill kids,” Vance said. “So it’s always a challenge especially going over there to play.”

Liberty Hill goes on the road again after winning its two home games by a combined score of 110 to 29. But as the Panthers learned in the opener on the road against Giddings, it is always tougher to come back home with a win from a hostile environment.

The Panthers, however, are up for the test against a formidable coaching staff.

“They have a great atmosphere there at their place and it’s fun to play them,” Vance said. “They are coached real well. Coach (Jeff) Miller and his staff do a great job of that.”

  -Joseph Garcia